It’s been interesting, in a frightening sort of way, to watch the rise of Donald Trump. One interesting moment came in the numerous responses to the support Trump is receiving from evangelicals. I guess I’m surprised at the surprise expressed in many of these articles or blogs. Evangelicals (with a capital “E”… I consider myself an evangelical) are addicted to power and that’s what they are aching for. The Donald delivers the fix.
Like all addictions, power is subtle.
It seeks to take us, body and soul, completely by undermining our relational guidelines. Relationship keeps us out of addiction. As we depend on others, give to others and are grateful for others, we desire life and living. We are satisfied in many deep and abiding ways. An addiction grows as it replaces this satisfaction with want and it does that sometimes in the very cells of our bodies. Very gently, addiction replaces our relationships with separation so that, over time, we ache for no one and nothing except the feeling we receive from the drug of choice.
This can happen with power. We feel like we can “make things happen.” We love when people give in and do as we want. Evangelicalism, in its worst forms, has focused on bending people to its will through conversion. Unfortunately, it moved away from conversion to Jesus and following him to conversion to a culture. The culture was what it created around Jesus… “Jesus stuff.” Conferences, trinkets, study Bibles in all colors, studies, videos, radio stations, clothes, pundits, separation from other culture… all to build a sense of protection and worth that didn’t rely on God’s grace. It sought to make people believe its culture and to fall into line with behavioral patterns. The trouble is that these patterns are focused on perfection and purity and not on relationship with people or God. The aim is to be good, not to be real. The dominance with its pressure to submit individually, in groups, through teachings, music and books, reveals the greater importance of power and authority over other people.
When the Moral Majority came into a period of national attention, the movement became focused on wielding political power. Candidates fed this need by wooing the leaders. Those following the leaders began to feed on the trickle-down obsession. Even though the national attention shifted away because the hollow core was revealed through cascading scandals, the need and the need to feed remains. Trump is simply giving them a free ride and they’re basking in the high. When they realize that they have gained no ground but actually fallen into a deeper expression of loss, they’re going to get angry, but it won’t matter.
The example of humility, abiding in trusting God’s power, seeking others’ significance provided by Jesus has nothing to do with this community any more. As has been the case for over 2000 years, the future of faith will be led by those who pray and assist their children to discover the One who is the heart of that conversation, the One who guides them deeply into relationship with other human beings, rather than those who anguish over it not being forced in schools anymore.